PATIENCE AND SPIRITUAL MATURITY

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Late one night on my way to work, there was an unusual amount of traffic and I thought to myself there was no way I was going to get to work in time. I decided to take the next exit until I realized I was only going in circles, unsure of where I was going. I typed my work address on my GPS and it took me right back to where I’d started. It turns out traffic wasn’t that bad and after a few minutes the normal flow of traffic on the highway resumed. I felt a little foolish. I was rash when all I had to do was be a little patient. I eventually got to work even earlier than I feared.

God isn’t a God of short cuts. As wonderful as miracles are we can over rely on them and miss the balance that comes with faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes faith in Him requires we wait on God’s promise rather than try to rush it on our own. Sometimes we take short cuts or take the easy way because we are worried about being left behind. We feel like the odd ones out and because of peer pressure we succumb to what society is saying rather than finding out the truth for ourselves. We get so impatient we try to convince oursleves that we we are helping God hasten the process when his plans are better than ours.
I learned a long time ago that letting God guide me was a chance to reset my priorities. There is only so much I can handle so when I’m impatient I have to humble myself and allow God to direct me the right way.  If you put your own fears and anxiety in the way it only prolongs the process of getting where you need to be. Just like my experience on the highway.
Rachel

PURPOSE OF PAIN: A HUSBAND’S PERSPECTIVE

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I expected it to be a morning like any other. She comes home from her night shift, takes a shower, has breakfast while she tells me about her day and then she’d go to bed and sleep. But this morning was different. She came home complaining of pain in her belly. Could it be something she ate? She said she had chicken nuggets on her way to work the previous night. Yet every time she moved her stomach tightened up even more to the point where she could barely walk. I hoped it was indigestion but the longer it lasted the worse the pain got. She eventually got some rest but it was’t enough. She was 18 weeks pregnant and against my better judgment I googled some of the symptoms to ease not just my fears but her own. The only possible cause for the discomfort was ligament pain and it was more prevalent in mothers who’d had babies before. I couldn’t breath a sigh of relief just then but I had to assure her that she was fine. The only other home remedy I could think of was to soak a cloth in warm water and gently place it on her belly. She had a brief respite from the pain but it wasn’t enough. Every movement the baby made made her wince in pain.

“What’s wrong honey? I’m fine. The baby is just trying to get comfortable that’s all.”

“I know but I hate to see you like this. I wish I could take away some of your pain.”

We had to see the doctor that evening and after a routine checkup the nurse said the baby was fine and her explanation for the pain was the chicken nuggets my wife ate and that she should stay away from fatty foods.

How we managed to get through that night was a mystery.  The pain was even worse and we had no choice but to go to the emergency room.  As I drove there I remember thinking to myself, “At least I’ll know the exact route to take to the hospital when my wife is in labor.” As  cautious as I drove, every minor bump on the road felt like a tornado to her so I was glad when we finally got there.

They did all the tests that were necessary and reassured us at least from all they saw that the baby was fine and we could make an appointment with a specialist to make sure everything was fine. Maybe it was the news that the baby was fine that made a diffference to my wife or maybe it was the constant activity throughout the day but my wife was visible better after we left the emergency room.

That evening, the pain wasn’t as severe but she had to sleep in our daughter’s bed because it was more comfortable. Steadily she has improved since then and in 3 days when we went for a walk  she was walking as fast as all of us. All I can say is God is good. Challenges will be there in every relationship and even though the future is uncertain, faith is what must always guide us.

BOOK REVIEW: FAHRENHEIT 451

Part of the appeal of dystopian novels is that they strip the world of all its glitz and glamour and underneath that layer of pretense, they reveal in brutal honesty the true character of man and the wickedness that lurks in the shadows. Thus when we compare the world today to a dystopian one, we are reminded of how our poor choices can result in disastrous consequences in the future. On the other hand, are we really that far from that future? Or aren’t we now just witnessing the birth pangs of a reality that none of us are truly prepared to face? On that rather bleak note, on to a spoiler free review of the book!

In this classic written by Ray Bradbury, Guy Montag is a fireman whose sole purpose in this futuristic world is to destroy books. Despite the outward pride he exudes in performing his duty, he slowly starts to have an identity crisis when he meets a girl called Clarisse McClellan who asks him questions that challenge the reality of what he believes. She asks him, “Are you happy?” (7). This simple question, triggers in him a wave of emotions that lay bare the whole facade he was trying to put up about how much he loves his job.

“He was not happy. He was not happy. He said the words to himself. He recognized this as the true state of affairs . He wore his happiness like a mask and the girl had run off across the lawn with the mask and there was no way of going to knock on her door and ask for it back.” (9)

It’s a materialistic world.

Montag’s wife, Mildred, is more interested in watching TV than interracting with her husband. She’s drawn to it a lot and when she can’t focus she takes sleeping pills every time Montag wants to talk to her about real issues. Mildred can’t face the real world either because when she’s agitated she inserts “seashells” in her ear which are essentially like ear buds.

I don’t think it was a mistake that Bradbury called the ear buds seashells. If you’ve ever put an actual sea shell in your ear it emits white noise like the sound of the ocean. The author shows that people like Mildred would rather drown their sorrow with the sound of “nothingness” than actually interract with people around them.

Fahrenheit 451 isn’t necessarily about Government censorship but about the lengths people would go in the the name of wanting to be happy. People don’t want to be offended therefore books were identified as the primary source of people’s unhappiness and therefore had to be burned. This is political correctness in the extreme.

“…the word ‘intellectual’, of course became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar.” (55)

Montag has good intentions but like a fire he is unpredictable.

FIRE- “It’s real beauty is that it destroys responsibility and consequences.” (109)

Without giving too much away, Guy Montag gets himself in situations where he needs to be more tactful but his emotions get the better of him. This new found feeling of freedom of choice makes him a prime target for the powerful government agents whom he works for especially his superior Captain Beatty. On one of their talks about how firemen came to be, Beatty ominously warns Montag that,

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the constitution says but everyone made equal.” (55)

Beatty adds,

“So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Breach man’s mind who knows who might be the target of the well read man. Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute.” (56)

Will Montag turn into a rebel? Or will he succumb to the realization that he is fighting a futile battle that is far bigger than he anticipated?

I highly recommed this book for the simple fact that despite being published in 1953, it is still highly relevant today and sheds light into what our society might turn into.

10 out of 10 stars for me. or five out of five. Point is, I like it.

Quick note too. I watched the HBO movie right after reading the book and though the movie wasn’t terrible it was just average at best! Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon are good actors but as usual the creators took creative license and I was unimpressed. Don’t get me started on their portrayal of Clarisse McClellan. Maybe I’ll do the old book and movie comparison just for my own peace of mind.

BOOK REVIEW: RUMO AND HIS MIRACULOUS ADVENTURES.

When Rumo is taken captive by a race of one-eyed giants, he little knows that it will set him off on an adventure into the perilous world of the Zamonian continent. The only sure thing he has chosen to follow is a silver thread in the sky. Will Rumo find the answers to all the questions he seeks in his life? Or will it lead to despair?

Walter Moers has written what I can only describe as an adventerous masterpiece woven into a fantasy realm about a dog called Rumo who is on a journey of self discovery. He has to overcome incredible adversity to beat the odds in a very unforgiving world.

In the beginning , the protagonist Rumo, lives a very privileged life as a pet on a Hackonian farm. Life was good for the young puppy until his quiet life is shattered when some one-eyed raiders called Demonocles kidnap him and hold him captive on a moving island called Roaming Rock.

Despite the horriific conditions, Rumo manages to survive thanks to the advice of a fellow captive called Volzotan Smyke. He eventually gains enough courage to break free from his captors. THE END. No it’s definitely not.

This is only one story that leads Rumo on an incredible journey of bravery, friendship, sacrifice, loss, and love.

Rumo and his miraculous adventures is the second book I’ve read by Walter Moers. The first was The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books which first introduced me to the world of Zamonia. I would say his books are catered to young adults even though the art on this book cover suggests it’s for children.  Even my wife thought I was borrowing a children’s book. However, I was mesmerized by how the language was masterfully written to paint pictures and describe places that seemed to instantly come to life on every page.

His books are engaging and thoroughly entertaining so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Moers is actually German and his books have been translated to English.

Whoever translated the books, Bravo! I’ll make sure to like and subscribe to your channel since that’s what people want nowadays.

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Back to Rumo. The best thing about the book is that it is engaging. At no point did I feel the author was filling in words for the sake of it. Because Zamonia is a made up place obviously, Moers made up a lot of words.  For instance, Rumo is a WOLPERTING and his friend Smyke is a SHARK GRUB who got his knowledge from a NOCTURNOMATH called Professor Nightingale. You get the point. The complex words only add to the overall story and make it so much more richer and not many authors can do that.

All the characters are almost polar opposites of each other which adds to the intrigue especially in tense situations. The warriors and monsters are as thirsty for blood just as much as the professors and alchemists are as desperate for knowledge.

One of the most engaging parts of the book was when a tree called Yggdra Syl (good luck pronouncing that) talks passionately to Rumo about how trees are not as immobile and docile as people think they are. He says,

“We’re supposed to be the epitome of stability, reliability, impertability….That’s all nonsense! We’re really the most mobile living creatures in existence, we’re always on the move- always in every direction….We’re never still….Oak trees are really the finest symbol of mobility, but people insist on misinterpreting us. ” (367)

Yggdra Syl also goes on to talk about how intricate his roots explore the center of the earth.

“It’s like leafing through a book written by earth itself. Full of secrets! Full of surprises! Full of mysterious marvels! ” (367)

That final quote really sums up the story perfectly.  Every character in the book has a story to tell and I could go on and on about how good it is but I don’t want to give it away.

Although this book is a work of fantasy, the themes talked about are very relatable. There is a carpenter called Ornt who people come to for advice. Not because he is very good at it but because he is a willing listener. Moers writes,

“People didn’t see Ornt because they believed he would advice them corectly. They consulted him because he relieved them of something they feared even more than the prosepct of their own funerals; the need to make a decision.” (347)

Whaaaaat ! So deep I had to pause for a few seconds after reading that. Anyway, I hope you liked this unorthodox book review and I highly recommend the book. 10 out of 10 stars for me.

Shout out to my local library for going out of their way to find this book for me.  Have a great day.

 

 

SPIRITUAL MATURITY

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It’s a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in Hackettstown. Dare I say, spring has finally sprung and it’s about time too. Then summer will be here in a few weeks and I will complain about how hot it is. Human nature! How fickle we are not to appreciate the simple things in life. Anyway, before I go on and on about the intricacies of the seasons, I’d like to talk about spiritual maturity.

Salvation is a very rewarding experience and the moment I made my decision to dedicate my life to Christ, I realized God really had been looking out for me my whole life especially in the moments I rejected him. It’s one of the more ironic things in Christianity because it implies that you can mess up as many times as you want and God will be there to save you anyway. That is simply not true! Yes, God has given us the power of free will but with that comes great responsibility once you realize HIS gift. Scripture says in

Galatians 5:1

“For FREEDOM Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The explanation is that once you gain this gift of Salvation you have a CHOICE not to go back to the things that held you back. Value your slavation like the most precious thing you own. You could be struggling with something as big as addiction or as common as procrastination. Whatever it is, you have to realize that you are not battling those things alone in your mind, but you have Christ to guide you along the way. What is the point of going back to things that have no long term benefit to your health or life? Like the verse says, STAND FAST and be BRAVE because you are not a slave to those things anymore.

Part of your responsibility is not just to yourself but to others as well. If you are saved, are you living by example for others to see Christ working through you?

Galatians 5:13

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be SERVANTS of one another.”

If the point of salvation was to shut myself up in a room somewhere and sing “Kum ba ya” all day then I’d be missing the point. This thing called life forces us to be around people. Some of whom we might not like but once you see them through the eyes of God, it makes their faults a lot easier to bear. It does not mean you have to be a punching bag but it means you now have the self control to see beyond what people do to you.

Ultimately you are answerable to God. One of the most misquoted scriptures of my generation is “Only God can judge me.” True. But that does not mean he is exactly happy with what you are doing. Some people misunderstand JUDGMENT with CORRECTION. When my mother told me not to stick a metal knife into a socket she was simply warning me. I refused to listen, waited for her to leave the room, did it anyway and got electrocuted. Lessson learned! All that could have been avoided because there was that voice in my head saying , “Mom, stop judging me. It’s my choice to stick the knife in.” Yes, it was my choice but maybe if I listened to her WISDOM and not my own feelings I would have avoided a more serious outcome.

Scripture says in

Galatians 6:7-8

“Do not be deceived; God is NOT MOCKED, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 Sow to the flesh and reap corruption. Sow to the spirit and reap eternal life.”

So are you measuring your righteousness in the eyes of men or God? Promote love, peace, unity. Extend your grace and forgivness to people who may not even deserve it and that’s how to slowly gain spiritual maturity. Let Christ work through you and let your actions speak for themselves.

Steve.

Paintings by Aisosa.